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Salah is one of the most beautiful acts of worship. A mercy and a blessing, given to us for our own sake, by the One who knows exactly what our restless souls need to thrive and to revive. It is an offering that allows us to take precious moments within our day, to reconnect with Allah SWT, to cleanse, purify, and be reminded of our ultimate purpose. How easy it is to become distracted and consumed with the Dunya, to get lured into the tricks of shaytan, to become forgetful and negligent of the immense need that we have, to be centred and rooted in the remembrance and worship of God.
When Salah is given its rightful place at the core of our lives, we gain an immeasurable strength. We find solace and contentment knowing that we are doing what our Lord, in all His wisdom, has asked of us. But how do we commit and persevere, staying mindful and reflective even when our lives often feel like an uphill struggle? How do we apply depth and beauty to our prayer, allowing us to truly taste its sweetness?
Firstly, we must realise its importance, its ability to realign us, to protect us and to allow us a place of refuge from the endless distractions that may distance us from Allah. For us to absorb the essence of prayer, we need to truly know and love the One who is inviting us. We need to intimately know His names and His attributes, be thankful for what He has done for us and trust with conviction, in His plan. A beautiful prayer is not just about the inner dimensions but also the outer too. It's about the external purification and preparedness that helps us to fully engage in a meaningful connection with God.
When we think of practising a conscious prayer that transcends beyond the physical movements, we may think from the moment that we say, “Allahu Akbar!”
But the true awakening and readiness of our spiritual heart begins much before this. From the time that the Athan is called, Shaytan is looking to distract us and deviate us from the path, so imagine the power of being prepared before the Athan is even called? There is so much reward for the believer, who waits in anticipation, willing, mindful and ready to come to prayer.
We know that making Wudu is a prerequisite to prayer, but often it is performed in such haste, as a means to an end because we cannot pray without it. But what if we saw Wudu as the beautiful and invigorating cleanse that it actually is? What if we saw it as another opportunity to beautify our Salah? We can wash the prescribed parts of our body and utter the correct duas, but what is the state of our heart as we perform this ritual? Are we washing simply to prepare for prayer, or are we making Wudu to please Allah, because we want to be in the most beautiful state when we meet Him? We must not forget that Wudu itself, when done with sincere intention, also has the power to purify our minor sins.
The Prophet ﷺ said:
“A person who performs wuḍū’ properly will have his sins removed from his body, so much that the sins are removed even from underneath his nails.” (Muslim)
SubhanAllah how Wudu washes away that which is unseen to man and allows us to meet our Lord, cleansed of our sins. It is so important that we take our time with each and every step, imagining those sins falling from us with every drop of water. How merciful our Lord is before we even stand in front of Him.
Then we must think about how we want to dress for our Salah. Do we want to come running from our daily chores, dishevelled and carrying the scent of the dunya? Do we want to wear that which we wore to prepare the food, or clean the home? If we were invited to meet the King, how would we hope to present ourselves, what impression would we hope to give, would we arrive in our sleepwear or choose our finest gown? Our salah is a meeting with the King of Kings, isn’t it an honour therefore, to be clothed in garments that are carefully created, that allow us to move with grace and that elevate our worship?
When we begin our Salah knowing and loving the One we have come for, cleansed, present and dressed beautifully, only then are we ready to say. “Allahu Akbar” with a full heart. God is the Greatest, greater than anything else, more important than whatever it was we were doing, more precious than who we were with and completely worth taking our time for. When we lift our hands and we say those words, we signify that the Dunya is behind us, and in that moment, we are so beautiful that Allah turns in all His might, to face us. If only we can realise the weight of truly and intentionally submitting to Him in the most beautiful of ways.
What a sacred time, an intimately carved out space for thoughtful conversation with our Maker. All praise be to Him, who gave us the gift of prayer. Now it is upon us, to humbly and mindfully make it as beautiful as we can and to taste in its sweetness as He so wished that we would.